Calder Concludes 2005-06 Tropical Meet

Calder Race Course concluded its 34th Tropical Meet on Monday, Jan 2., and – while the quality of the racing offered on track during the meet was once again exceptional – overall attendance and handle were sharply affected by severe weather and its related consequences, most notably Hurricane Wilma.

Wilma, a Category 3 hurricane, struck South Florida on Oct. 24 and caused considerable damage to Calder’s stable area, clubhouse facility and infield tote board, as well as to fencing and landscaping around the track property. The damage, coupled with widespread power outages, forced Calder to cancel live racing and simulcast wagering for five days and to conduct shortened, turf-only race cards on two days while repairs to the main track’s safety rail were completed.

Total wagering, including all sources from 55 days of live racing and 22 days of simulcast-only wagering, was $321.79 million compared to $333.08 million one year ago, a decrease of 3.39 percent. Average daily wagering from all sources on all days was $4.18 million, a decline of 12.17 percent from the average of $4.76 million wagered during the 2004-2005 season. In the previous year, the Miami-area track offered 55 days of live racing and 15 days of simulcast-only wagering.

Average daily wagering by patrons on-track betting on Calder’s live races totaled $400,886 versus an a daily average of $441,781 during the previous year, a decline of 9.26 percent. Total combined handle – which includes on-track, inter-track and interstate wagering on Calder’s live racing program – averaged $3.97 million each day compared to an average of $4.37 million a year ago, a drop of 9.13 percent.

Average daily on-track attendance for the 2005-2006 Tropical at Calder Meet was 4,122, representing a 6.49-percent decrease from the previous year’s average of 4,408. Average attendance on “dark” days – when the track offered full-card simulcasting – was 808, down 3.31 percent from last year’s average of 836. Year-over-year comparative wagering and attendance data for the meet is provided below.

“This has been one of the toughest years I can recall with Mother Nature handing us one challenge after another,” said Calder President Ken Dunn. “Our team was forced to deal with three significant hurricanes this year – Dennis, Katrina and Wilma, the latter of which adversely affected our Tropical Meet. I am still amazed by the tireless efforts of our employees, particularly our maintenance staff, to have Calder up and running after Hurricane Wilma. Thanks to the dedication of our entire team, we were able to reopen for simulcasting in time for our customers to enjoy the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 29.

“Following Hurricane Wilma – which disrupted business and residential life throughout South Florida for a period of weeks – it was especially important to get our employees and horsemen back to work, race fans back to Calder, and our Tropical Meet back underway. We could not control the weather – only our reaction to the crisis it caused. And I am truly impressed with the way our team pulled together for the sake of our customers.”

Storms aside, the 2005-2006 Tropical at Calder meet still boasted an impressive stakes schedule that attracted runners from all over the country to match up against the best local talent. The season was again highlighted by specially packaged racing promotions, including The Florida Million and three Grand Slam events. The first “derby” of the year in the country, the Tropical Park Derby (Grade III), was run on New Year’s Day and was won by Barbaro, who remains undefeated with that victory.

The race for leading trainer of the Tropical meet went to the last day and resulted in Henry Collazo winning his first title with 17 winners, while Eddie Plesa, Jr. finished second in the standings with 16. Bill White, Larry Pilotti and Todd Pletcher all had 15 winners for the season. Jockey Manoel Cruz was the leading jockey with 68 victories.

Jorge Chavez was the second leading rider with 67 wins, while the defending champion, Eddie Castro, was third with 54.Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation was the meet’s leading owner with nine winners, including the victory by Revved Up in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup on Florida Million day. Last year’s leader, Michael Sherman, tied with Robert Bakerman for second place with eight winners for the season.

Though the 2005-2006 Tropical at Calder season is over, full-card simulcasting continues at Calder for the first time during the “off season” with wagering on races from Gulfstream Park and at tracks throughout the country. The 2006 Calder Meet will run from April 25 through Oct. 15. 2005-2006

TROPICAL AT CALDER MEET – COMPARATIVE DATA

Total on-track attendance (does not include simulcast-only days or evening attendance)

2005/06: 226,709 (55 days)        Avg. 4,122                 Avg. +/- %

2004/05: 242,420 (55 days)        Avg. 4,408                 - 6.49

 

tal on-track handle (Calder program only, no full card simulcasting)

2005/06: $22,048,727                Avg. $400,886            Avg. +/- %

2004/05: $24,297,975                Avg. $441,781             -9.26

 

Total ITW + ISW handle (Calder program only, no full card simulcasting)

2005/06: $196,385,772               Avg. $3,570,650         Avg. +/- %

2004/05: $216,075,214               Avg. $3,928,640         -9.11

 

Total combined handle (On-track + ITW + ISW, no full card simulcasting)

2005/06: $218,434,499               Avg. $3,971,536         Avg. +/- %

2004/05: $240,373,189               Avg. $4,370,422          -9.13

 

Total full card simulcasting handle (on-track + ITW) (does not include simulcast-only days)

2005/06: $76,819,303                 Avg. $1,396,715         Avg. +/- %

2004/05: $78,669,993                 Avg. $1,430,364         -2.35

 

Total full card simulcasting handle (on-track + ITW) on simulcast-only days

2005/06: $26,533,630 (22 days)   Avg. $1,206,074         Avg. +/- %

2004/05: $14,039,619 (15 days)   Avg. $935,975             +28.86

 

Total on-track attendance on simulcast-only days

2005/06: 17,782 (22 days)           Avg. 808                     Avg. +/- %

2004/05: 12,539 (15 days)           Avg. 836                     -3.35

 

GRAND TOTALS (all sources, all days)

2005/06: $321,787,432 (77 days)  Avg. $4,179,058            Avg. +/- %

2004/05: $333,082,801 (70 days)  Avg. $4,758,326             -12.17

 

Calder Race Course, located on South Florida’s Miami-Dade / Broward county line, offers Thoroughbred horse racing and wholecard simulcasting during two consecutive meets. The track is home of the Summit of Speed, Juvenile Showcase, Festival of the Sun, Florida Million and Grand Slam series of events. A wholly owned property of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN), Calder also operates the Tropical at Calder Meet. In 2006, the Calder Meet runs from April 25 through October 15. Full card simulcasting is offered year-round. Information about Calder Race Course can be found on the Internet at www.calderracecourse.com.